20 Fun, Free Things to Do in Orlando (Because Disney Gets Expensive)

When you think of Orlando, you might think Disney.

That’s fair. Heck, I’m a native Floridian, and I thought that most of my life — until I actually moved to Orlando.

Sure, Disney is great and all, but the truth is The City Beautiful has a lot to offer outside the parks. And what’s better? There are plenty of free things to do here — things that don’t cost you hundreds of dollars just to gain entry…

20 Fun Things to Do in Orlando for Free

Whether you live here in Orlando or are planning your next trip, here are 20 free things to do.

1. Winter Park Farmers’ Market

Free things to do in orlando

Explore the local vendors at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market, hosted at the old train depot each Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Note: The market is closed on every third Saturday in March due to the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, one of the oldest and largest outdoor art festivals in the country. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in town — and it’s free.

Afterwards, explore Park Avenue, which is laced with shops, restaurants, museums and theaters.

2. Lake Eola

Free things to do in orlando

Butting up to the heart of downtown Orlando, Lake Eola offers Insta-worthy views, a .9-mile walking sidewalk and some very large swans. (Really, they’re huge.) If you’re there on a Sunday, stop by the market.

Throughout the year, there are tons of free activities (like movie showings), so bookmark this calendar.

3. Lakeridge Winery

Free things to do in orlando

Want a real taste of Florida? And maybe a buzz? Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards rests on a 127-acre estate in Clermont, Florida, and serves award-winning wines. A tour and a tasting are free.

Keep an eye on upcoming events, too, like the free summer music series or the grape-stomping competition, which the kids will get into for free and will love.

4. Old Town in Kissimmee

Free things to do in orlando

Free to enter and peruse, Old Town is a retro landmark that offers amusement rides, souvenir shops and lots of food options.

On Friday and Saturday nights, secure a spot on the sidewalk, and watch muscle and classic cars make their way down Main Street.

5. Orlando Brewing

Free things to do in orlando

Embark on a free tour of Orlando Brewing, Monday through Saturday at 6 p.m. Once you appreciate where the beer comes from, start sippin’.

Pro Tip

If you want to do a beer tasting, check Groupon. You can usually find 50%-off deals for parties of two.

6. Big Tree Park

This park was once famous for The Senator, a 3,500-year-old bald cypress tree that burned down in 2012 due to a drug-fueled incident. (Long story.)

Although The Senator no longer remains (RIP), you’ll still find its memorial, as well as its 2,000-year-old sister tree, Lady Liberty.

Plus, there’s a nice trail and playground, and the shade will protect you from the Florida sun.

Pro Tip

If you’re planning an outdoor activity in the summer, pack plenty of sunscreen and bug spray.

7. Disney Springs

free things to do in Orlando

Formerly known as Downtown Disney, Disney Springs is a lakeside corridor of shops, restaurants, bars and entertainment.

You don’t have to spend money to enjoy the lively outdoor atmosphere. There’s also a water taxi you can take from one end to the other. Plus, parking is free, which is hard to come by in Orlando.

Bonus: You’ll find the Lego Store here, a wonderland of blocks that kids — and adults — will get lost in for hours. You don’t have to pay to play!

8. Cornell Fine Arts Museum

free things to do in Orlando

On the beautiful campus of Rollins College, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum holds more than 500 paintings and a whole lot of artifacts and archaeological fragments. Plan to stop by for a free 30-minute guided tour.

(Note: It’s closed on Mondays.)

9. Disney’s Boardwalk

Tucked between Epcot and Hollywood Studios, Disney Boardwalk transports you to Coney Island in the 1920s.

Relax a bit as you walk along Crescent Lake, watch the street magicians perform and take in the fragrant funnel cakes. Parking is free.

Pro tip: You can catch the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks display from here, too.

9. CityArts Factory

free things to do in Orlando

Tucked between Lake Eola and I-4 in a 130-year-old building, the CityArts Factory houses works from local artists, as well as international pieces — all rotated in and out each month.

Admission is free Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

10. Winter Park

free things to do in Orlando

Stop by the Winter Park Historical Museum (in the Winter Park Farmers Market building) to pick up a free walking tour brochure. On it, you’ll find 21 stops, including the Winter Park Railroad Station, Knowles Cottage and the Colony Theatre.

(You can find more walking maps on the City of Winter Park’s website.)

11. Celebration Town Center

free things to do in Orlando

This “perfect town” was designed by Disney and is lined with pastel-colored houses and white picket fences. Many people visit to take in the pleasant sights and walk around the lake.

The town’s center is host to a number of dining, entertainment and shopping options. Keep tabs on upcoming events, like exotic car shows and arts strolls.

12. Black Hammock Adventures

free things to do in Orlando

Black Hammock Adventures is situated on Lake Jesup, which is home to something like 9,000 gators (the largest concentration of ’em in the States). You also might spot bald eagles, wild boars, bobcats — you name it.

According to its website, you can view free gator feedings — depending on the weather. If you want to splurge, there are airboat rides, too.

13. Cocoa Beach

free things to do in orlando

The closest beach to Orlando is Cocoa Beach, which is about an hour away (depending on where you’re staying).

Parking for the popular Alan Shepard Park is $ 15, but Lori Wilson Park, right down the road, is free.

There’s even a dog park if your furry friend wants to tag along.

14. Fort Christmas

free things to do in orlando

If you decide to head to the beach, stop by Fort Christmas Historical Park on your way.

Built during the Second Seminole War, the site features a full-size replica of Fort Christmas and seven historical “Cracker-style” homes. Listen to video presentations before enjoying a picnic under one of the pavilions.

Check for free events, too, like the annual bluegrass festival in March and Cracker Christmas in December.

15. Kraft Azalea Garden

free things to do in Orlando

Pack a picnic and soak up the serenity this lakeside park offers. Then break out your bird-watching binoculars, and see what you can spot.

Pro Tip

The azaleas in Florida tend to bloom from late February to early April if you want a colorful show. If you miss that window, opt for one of Florida’s classic colorful sunsets instead.

16. Grand Bohemian Gallery

free things to do in orlando

If you *heart* art, stop by the beautiful Grand Bohemian Gallery — even if you’re not staying at the hotel.

Parking downtown might be tricky, but use ParkMe to find your cheapest option (like the $ 2 City Commons Garage).

17. Tasty Tuesdays

Free things to do in orlando

The Milk District (named for its proximity to T.G. Lee Dairy) is known for Tasty Tuesdays, a gathering of local food trucks each Tuesday, 6:30-10 p.m. Bring the kids — or your dog — and check out the live music and neighborly festivities.

18. Universal CityWalk

free things to do in Orlando

After 6 p.m., park for free, and take in the big lights of Universal CityWalk, which is comparable to Vegas — without the slots.

There’s also a fountain the kids can splash in. In the summer, keep an eye out for free concerts.

19. Chip ’n Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-Long

Saddle in fireside, and join these adorable chipmunks as you roast s’mores and warm up your vocals. You can even snap a photo and snag an autograph.

To save even more money, bring your own marshmallows and sticks. The shenanigans start at 8 p.m.

20. Spook Hill

If you really want to embark on an adventure, head south a ways to Lake Wales. Around 600 N. Wales Dr., you’ll find a sign marking “The Legend of Spook Hill.”

Pull over, and read the story, then follow the directions. Apparently, if you do it right, your car will roll uphill.

The TripAdvisor reviews are mixed, so don’t go too far out of your way for this local haunt.

Bonus: Wekiva Island

Enter this environmentally friendly oasis on the Wekiva River for $ 2 per person. Hang out dockside, or float around while listening to live bands.

If you want to get adventurous, you can rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard; a half-day rental costs less than $ 40. When you get tired, stop by the Tooting Otter for a snack and a craft beer.

Pro Tip

Get $ 1 off beer and wine during happy hour, which runs 5-7 p.m.

Note: We know many of you like to resort pool hop. Unfortunately many hotels don’t appreciate it, so that’s why we didn’t include the suggestion. Get kicked out of your own free will.

Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. This post would have been as messy as I-4 traffic without diligent research from Haley Gonzalez, our writing intern.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Orlando Brown Seeks Help From Dr. Phil With Snake-Eye Contacts

Orlando Brown is seeking help from Dr. Phil and wearing snake-eye contacts to his session.

Brown, the ex-Disney star (“That’s So Raven”) has been spiraling out of control allegedly due to drugs and who knows what else including mental issues. It seems his situation has become so dire that he’s at the point where he’s looking for a savior in the doctor.

The meet-up with Dr. Phil is set for Friday. Reportedly it’s an intervention-type setting that was put together by one of Brown’s friends. Speaking of mental issued, the friend says the ex-actor is suffering from a mental disorder and on top of that, has burned so many bridges … he’s run out of people and places to go for help.

“I called in because Orlando he has mental problems,” the 31-year-old’s friend told the television host in the clip. “He’s burnt so many bridges no one wants to deal with him. If you can’t help him, he does not have a chance.”

Here’s more from TMZ:

The clip’s pretty shocking — both because of what the friend says about the “That’s So Raven” star … and the look in Orlando’s eye(s) when he sits face-to-face with Dr. Phil.

We broke the story … several of Brown’s friends staged an intervention for him in October to encourage him to enter a rehab facility. It worked — but only temporarily — and it’s clear people are still very concerned about him.

As we reported … Orlando’s been in and out of handcuffs several times in 2018, including after he was busted breaking into a restaurant in September.

Oh yeah, let’s not forget about the insane time he was busted by bounty hunters back in April. He was arrested in his underwear!

And there’s this:

“Out of nowhere he’ll say, ‘Michael Jackson’s my father. I own Neverland,’” his friend told Dr. Phil.

The full interview airs today, Friday (12/21/18). Check your local listings for “Dr. Phil” air time(s).

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